Andrés Iniesta said a rare injury-free spell has given him "form, rhythm and confidence" after his masterful midfield show helped FC Barcelona take top spot in Group D from FC København.
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It takes a remarkable performance to upstage Lionel Messi when he scores twice to win a difficult match against admirable opponents – but that is what Andrés Iniesta achieved on Matchday 3 against FC København.
The midfielder started weaving his name into the fabric of the UEFA Champions League with that remarkable late goal at Stamford Bridge to eliminate Chelsea FC and put FC Barcelona into the 2009 final, which his side subsequently won. Beaten Manchester United FC striker Wayne Rooney told his team-mates afterwards that, in Iniesta, they had lost to the best player in the world.
However, the 26-year-old has rarely put together 90 more complete, influential and enjoyable minutes than in the 2-0 victory which allowed Josep Guardiola's men to vault their Danish visitors into the Group D leadership with a testing visit to Copenhagen just over the horizon.
Iniesta's flowing, creative display caught the eye, but ultimately it is points and not plaudits that he craves, and he told UEFA.com: "We look at this as 'job done' because we had a tough time adding the second goal that our play deserved. That made it tougher than it needed to be so we are happy enough with the victory. The three points put us in a terrific group position.
"When we don't score as we should it can cost us a little bit in our play and we have to accept that København created their own chances," he added. "However we saw out the victory and added a late goal just to make sure. I thought Leo [Messi] was sensational again, as he has been on so many occasions. The Champions League is a very demanding competition so when you secure a victory like this you just have to value it."
A scorer in Saturday's Liga defeat of Valencia CF, Iniesta was making his 15th successive appearance in domestic and international games this season – the sort of run that had been beyond him for the last two years because of injury. "Right now, I feel good; I feel quick, strong and have none of that niggling pain," he said. "Since the [FIFA] World Cup I've been putting together a run of games without injury and that gives you form, rhythm and confidence."
København coach Ståle Solbakken told UEFA.com he is hopeful of reversing the scoreline in two weeks' time when Barça come to Denmark. "We got better and better during the match," he said. "We grew in confidence the longer it was only 1-0 and we kept creating chances. I'm proud of the boys for playing their normal, offensive game. We will have a better chance in Copenhagen than we did here."